Some time ago, LightSpeed realized that, despite their product's many wonderful attributes, in the end, it would always be limited due to the fact that it was a locally-hosted solution and not a 'cloud-based' solution. There are pros and cons to local vs. cloud (and we'll get into them in a bit) but this didn't change the fact that many potential customers were asking for cloud-based solutions -- sometimes without really understanding what that meant -- and had to be turned away because LightSpeed was not a cloud-based solution and likely would never become one.
In March of 2012, they asked their reseller channel about their thoughts regarding moving LightSpeed 'into the cloud' and the response was visceral. Resellers are the technical, hands-on type who are in the field performing installations and training end users on how to use LightSpeed. They are also the ones who tend to get the most flack when clients are unhappy and they questioned moving to the cloud due to the reliance on what can sometimes be an unreliable internet connection at the store-level and what could potentially be an unreliable service if not hosted properly.
In July, LightSpeed made a surprise announcement that shocked many people, including their resellers. They had officially acquired, for an undisclosed amount, a competitive POS company called, Merchant OS. This was a cloud-based equivalent to LightSpeed in many ways that had been around for about the same amount of time but that had a much smaller user-base. It was a battle-tested and robustly hosted solution that had a very happy, loyal following, mostly comprised of small bike shops due to a built in product catalog of millions of bike parts and related accessories.
The deal had apparently gone down in May or June and by the time it was launched in July, it had been given a new look and rebranded as LightSpeed Cloud. The existing LightSpeed product now suffered from an identity crisis of sorts and had to be renamed, so they called it, LightSpeed Pro.
And thus, LightSpeed Cloud was born. But in what ways is it different than LightSpeed Pro? Why would you choose one over the other? If LightSpeed Cloud is so awesome then will LightSpeed get discontinued?
Stay tuned as I attempted to answer some of these questions and provide some clarity on the issue.
UPDATE: Since this blog post was originally written, Lightspeed changed the name of their cloud-based solution from "Lightspeed Cloud" to "Lightspeed Retail". They also changed the name of their Mac-based POS solution from "Lightspeed Pro" to "Lightspeed Onsite".
RECAP: The company formerly known as "Xsilva Systems, Inc.", who created a Mac-based POS system called, "Lightspeed", changed their name to "Lightspeed, Inc.". Then, they bought a cloud-based POS system called, "MerchantOS" and named it "Lightspeed Cloud" while, at the same time, renaming their original flagship product, "Lightspeed Pro". Not satisfied with this, they then changed the names of their products once again to "Lightspeed Retail" and "Lightspeed Onsite". Confused yet?